Under Promise, Over Deliver

Jim Brown
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In the history of the BP oil spill that saying has never been proven correct. BP has a history of saying one thing and then being proven wrong either in fact or in practice. Remember the 40 foot tall containment dome? How about the "Top Kill" process?

According to multiple reports out this weekend the first relief well could actually be completed prior to July 12th instead of early August as previously expected. That would be a major win for BP but U.S. National Incident Commander Thad Allen told reporters on Friday that despite being ahead of schedule he would rather not promise an early completion. He said everything associated with this spill and response recovery suggests we should under promise and over deliver.

Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc analysts David Cline and Barry MacCarthy said the first relief well may be completed between July 7th and July 12th, according to a note to clients yesterday. Pritchard Capital Partners LLC analysts Brian Uhlmer, Anuj Sharma and William Conroy said in a June 29 note that the well would be intercepted between July 7th and July 9th. How they got their information is unknown.

The latest news from BP is that the first relief well is now 55 feet from the Macondo well bore. They are using electromagnetic waves through rock to measure the distance to the intercept point in the target well. This is the equivalent of hitting a pipe the size of a dinner plate from a ship over three miles away. The technology is amazing. The first relief well is now at 16,817 feet from the surface of the ocean, 11,817 feet under the ocean bottom and the drillship is a half a mile away from the actual well site.

The relief well is so close that they can only drill 10-15 feet at a time before they have to remove all the pipe and run another ranging test to improve their targeting. Once they hit the Macondo well they estimate it will take 2-5 days to plug it. They have four ships with mud and mud pumps in order to overpower the Macondo well with brute force.

They will pump super heavy mud under extreme pressure into the Macondo well. The technology they are using is proven technology that has been in use and refined for the last 50 years. The chief driller on the drillship has drilled 40 relief wells. All 40 have been successfully plugged. This is his 41st well and obviously the most high profile.

Here is a video on the relief well that was released by BP this weekend. It is very informative and well done. I suggest everyone watch it. Video Link

They need the new tropical storm that is forming south of the Yucatan to hold off for a few more days or they will lose a couple weeks of shutdown and restart activities.

While they are drilling two relief wells they are still organizing the connection of two more collection ships to the blow out preventer and the installation of a floating riser 300 feet under the surface. The scale of this effort is nothing short of mind-boggling. BP may be catching hell from all sides but the sheer numbers f assets they have working on this is amazing. At any given time there are more than sixty ships at the well site and 14 robotic subs working on the ocean bottom. While I believe BP caused the problem because of serious lapses in judgment by those onsite, I believe BP has the best expertise for eventually solving the problem. It is a shame it will bankrupt them before the U.S. government gets done exacting their pound of flesh.

Jim Brown

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